Flu season is picking up steam, and it could get even worse as people return to Middle Tennessee from vacation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 29 states are now reporting high levels of symptoms associated with the flu, including Tennessee.
Brandi Williams brought her 3-month-old daughter Malia to the Vanderbilt Medical Center Pediatric Clinic for a checkup Friday, but she first made sure to get a flu vaccine so she could stay healthy around her baby.
"I work in the hospital, and I'm very susceptible to diseases so I'm trying to keep a healthy baby," Williams said.
While Malia is feeling pretty good, the clinic is seeing a lot of children coming in who are not feeling so well.
"We're seeing lots of children who are coming in and we're diagnosing with the flu," said Dr. Joseph Gigante, at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.
"Influenza has hit its stride in Tennessee. We are in the heart of the season right now," said Dr. Kelly Moore, with the Tennessee Department of Health.
The flu is most heavily concentrated in the southeast, and health officials say it could spread even more now that kids are returning to school after winter break.
"It is not too late for people who have not been vaccinated. They should know the vaccine is a terrific match for the circulating strains this year. The virus that's all over Tennessee is what the vaccine prevents," Moore said.
While several Middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky local schools took some days off because of illness before the holidays, those that were back in session Friday aren't seeing issues yet.
"It will be interesting to see once kids get back to school next week what will happen with the cases that we see," Gigante said.
The health department said many of its clinics still have the flu vaccine available free of charge.
If you want to get a vaccine, first call your local health department to find out if it's still available. If it is not, you can always go to a health department in a different county.
Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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